DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a growing concern in Montgomery County.

Health officials are once again warning the community of the rising number of pertussis cases. With the holidays coming up, health officials fear seasonal gatherings will increase the risk of spreading the disease.

Montgomery County has seen 100 cases in 2023, with 86 of those cases occurring since Aug. 1, 2022 only had 13 pertussis cases by comparison.

Pertussis is highly contagious and often spread by coughing or sneezing. It is one of the most commonly occurring diseases that is vaccine-preventable.

The disease begins with cold-like symptoms before progressing to severe coughing fits that can make it difficult to breathe. It is often treated through antibiotics.

Infants and young children are most at risk of serious complications. They might not cough as much but may gag or gasp and develop apnea, or pauses in their breathing pattern.

If you develop symptoms, it is important to stay home and get tested and treated before returning to school or work.

“We are seeing cases coughing for weeks before they seek care and even then they return to school while awaiting test results,” said Dr. Becky Thomas, Dayton & Montgomery County’s Medical Director. “It is important to stay home when sick, and while awaiting test results to prevent infecting others. Individuals who test positive for pertussis need to stay home until they have completed at least 5 days of antibiotics.”

Vaccination is the best protection against pertussis. Vaccines are available for infants, children, adolescents and adults. Booster shots are needed, as immunity wears off over time.

To schedule a vaccination appointment, contact your healthcare provider or call the Public Health Clinic at 937-225-4550.